As we inch closer to the New York Rangers attempting to make their mark on the NHL Entry Draft a very scary reality seems to be coming to light: The Rangers seemingly have no interest in moving Dan Girardi or Marc Staal this summer.
They do, apparently, have interest (at some level) of moving Derek Stepan, Rick Nash or maybe even Chris Kreider.
As we’ve discussed before, the Rangers already lost their best defenseman for pennies on the dollar because Jeff Gorton and company will not get rid of Girardi or Staal. I refuse to give him the escape rout that they’ve “tried and can’t” because the buyout window is open and the Rangers seem fine with Girardi’s $5.5-million cap space hitting the books again next year. Same goes for Staal and his $5.7-million cap hit, although you’d think at least he would have some trade value on the open market.
Larry Brooks, in his final pre-draft column, told us a few things. Mainly that the Rangers wouldn’t be selling low on their stars — apparently we’re not counting Yandle — but there’s two things he speculated that should put a pit in your stomach.
The first has to do with the rumors of Kevin Shattenkirk wanting to come to New York, but that the Rangers might not actually want him.
Shattenkirk is a top-four right-handed defenseman the Rangers normally would covet, but, as previously reported in this space, management is leery about the cost of a contract extension for the 27-year-old whose deal for $4.25 million per expires at the end of the next season and who then would be eligible to hit the open market.
With former Ranger Keith Yandle having signed a seven-year deal worth $6.35 million per with the no-tax state Panthers on Thursday morning, Shattenkirk likely would be in line for a seven-year deal worth at least $7 million per, though one well-connected individual said the New Rochelle native might be willing to give the Blueshirts a hometown discount.
The ideology behind this team-led logic makes my head hurt. The group is more than willing to sit of over $11-million in dead cap space with two defenseman who were without a doubt two of the worst players on the team, but when it comes to paying for actual talent the Rangers either shy away from it or trade them away.
Shattenkirk would be a great fit on the Rangers, actually replace Yandle’s offense and would improve an area that was dismal at best last year. Most of my confusion on the Rangers forward movement to this point is the Rangers are acting like a team that wants to tank (keep your worst players and move your best players for future assets) while still pretending like they’re helping the Rangers open the Cup window back up. Although they did this with the Eric Staal trade too, to.
But the Rangers pretty clearly can’t afford Shattenkirk. Why? Well, read the below from Brooks:
The Post has been told the Rangers believe they will be obligated to protect Girardi in next year’s expansion draft as the defenseman’s modified no-trade clause, which kicks in after next season, is layered underneath a no-move clause that remains in effect for the duration of his contract that expires following 2019-20.
Girardi could agree to waive it and thus allow the Rangers to expose him in the expansion draft, given the prohibitive odds against Las Vegas claiming the veteran defenseman. (The same applies to Staal, who also owns a no-move.)
That the Rangers brass is both aware and understands that Girardi may cost them a forced protection spot in next year’s expansion draft and they still aren’t actively trying to move him is incredibly alarming. At worst it means the organization believes Girardi will improve to the point of being part of the long term solution for this team, while at worst it means the organization would rather continue to shed good players to bank on another team taking Girardi off their hands.
I’ve said it a million times and I will repeat it again here: Girardi — even if he can be exposed — will not be selected by Las Vegas. If you actually believe there will not be much better options out there you’re kidding yourself.
If a guy like Nash or Stepan is removed to help the team improve while Girardi and Staal remain it would be like re-modeling your bathroom while your house is on fire. Soon your ignorance will consume everything and you’ll be left in the dark without a roof over your head.
So let Gorton wheel and deal. Apparently the Rangers are going to be very active this weekend. And maybe the team will even get some futures or work their way into the first round.
But if the Rangers don’t move Girardi or Staal then the Cup window is officially over.
And the team gets to try to build there from the ground up all over again.